9 states consider reviving penalties for not buying health insurance

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When the new GOP tax law went into effect January 1, we heard all about how it would overhaul the nation’s tax code.

But it also did something else that didn’t get as much press — it killed a key provision of Obamacare that was among the most politically controversial.

Here’s the deal: While Congressional Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, the new tax law did manage to reverse the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Now, however, the individual mandate might be making a comeback — only this time it could be on the state level, not the federal level.

RELATED: New Medicare cards are coming soon! Here’s when yours will be mailed

The individual mandate: It’s back! (maybe)

The Wall Street Journal reports nine states plus the District of Columbia are in early stages of mulling over proposals to retain the individual mandate.

These states include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia

It’s still too early to tell what level of fees or penalties the states will use if they do decide to retain the individual mandate.

But the federal penalty was a whopping $695 per adult for 2016 and 2017, according to HealthCare.gov.

health-insurance-penalty

The states will have all of 2018 to make up their minds about retaining the individual mandate. That’s because the national repeal of the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2019, the Journal reports.

Quick and easy ways to save on medical costs

Clearly, health care will continue to be an economic sticking point no matter your political persuasion. And it’s sure to continue pressuring the pocketbooks of both individuals and the government for the forseeable future.

Amid the looming threat of another government shutdown, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote today on a short-term spending bill today to keep the federal government open past Feb. 8.

Among the provisions in the proposed bill would be funding for community health centers for the next two years.

Meanwhile, there’s no reprieve from the health care expenditures you have to make everyday. So here are some ways to keep your medical budget in check:

Medication

You’ve heard it a million times before, but it bears repeating: Generic drugs will save you big money. Use a tool like GoodRx to find the least expensive price on your prescription near you. 

Also consider the following:

  • Consider online purchases that could typically save you 20% to 30%. But read this first to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate pharmacy.
  • Are you over age 50? AARP offers discounts on mail-in orders.
  • Are you a member of a managed care health program? Consider a 90-day supply of your medicine vs. a one-month supply. You’ll pay one co-payment vs. three.
  • Ask if your medication is cheaper in a higher milligram dose. Then, cut the tablet as needed for your proper dose. This method can save up to 75% of the cost.
  • Check the warehouse clubs. They often have low prices. And you don’t even need to be a member to use Costco’s pharmacy!

Dental

  • Go to a chain dentist practice for lower costs.
  • If you need really expensive surgery, it can often be cheaper to go out of the country for the job.
  • Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is a solid formula for keeping your teeth healthy as you age. Another great strategy is to get an electric or ultrasonic toothbrush to clean your teeth more effectively at home.
  • Groupon and LivingSocial can be sources for finding deals on a variety of dental, eye care and medical care services.
  • Search for either accredited dental schools or a dental hygiene program to get free or deeply discount services done by students under the watchful eyes of professional trainers.

Hearing

  • Money expert Clark Howard has often recommended people go to hunting shops like Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s to buy devices for hunters that are essentially hearing aids. You’ll pay anywhere from $12 an ear to a few hundred dollars per ear — a fraction of the cost you’d pay at an audiologist.
  • Consider an audio amplifier. One of our team members recently got a pair from a Chinese seller on eBay. She had to wait two months for them to clear customs, but the price was right: $7.84 for a pair!
  • iHEAR is the world’s first high quality invisible hearing aid that allows you to select settings at home for $399. If you’re thinking about getting one, you must first complete with an FDA-approved test for $69. (Requires a personal computer with an Internet connection.)

Vision

RELATED: How to see your secret ”˜health credit report’ files

The dos and don’ts of medical lab work

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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